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Jewish Journal

A Marshall Plan for Ukraine: A dream or reality?

by Dr. Vladimir Melamed

February 4, 2014 | 10:20 am

Screenshot from video

Screenshot from video

Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war. Although the government resigned and the former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov left for Vienna to visit his son, the rest of the Cabinet carries on anti-Ukrainian politics implemented by President Yanukovych and vigorously endorsed by the Kremlin. The Opposition leaders refused to take part in the to-be-formed new government realizing its imminent puppet role under Mr. Yanukovych's leadership. Yanukovych himself is not free in a geostratigical game, for he is on a short leash from the Kremlin and the main leash-keeper is Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation.

Neither the European Union nor the United States wants the escalation of the conflict, or, in historic terminology, the "Balkanization of Europe." So far, Russia has always been one step ahead, overplaying the EU, in keeping Ukraine in the orbit of Russia's geopolitical interests. The question so far remains unanswered whether or not the western democracies will take an initiative to secure the rising Ukrainian democracy, or, as it was in the past,  continue issuing declarations of support.

Ukrainian Opposition leaders expressed regret at European and American indecisiveness. Nowadays, the situation may change. At the Munich Security Conference, Arsenii Yatseniuk, the chairman of Bat'kivshchyna (the Fatherland) party, a main political opposition force in the Ukrainian Parliament, called for actions--"We need deeds not words."

He also challenged the EU and US governments with a new Marshall Plan. The course once outlined in the Marshall Plan helped rebuild postwar Western Europe and contained the spread of Stalinism beyond the "Iron Curtain." A new Marshal Plan should create a collective effort to stop the escalation of the conflict, to protect Ukrainian democratic institutions, to ensure the new parliamentary and presidential elections and to put police and security forces under public control--not to mention garner economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. If enacted, it may, after 22 years of desperate Ukrainian nation-building, eliminate a Kremlin leash that so far has been strong and short.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has expressed solidarity of the US and EU with the people of Ukraine. His European counterparts also pledged to support Ukrainian democracy and self-determination. Ukrainians are not sure if these statements will materialize into actions. The time is running out, for after the Sochi Olympics, Russia may commence political and military pressure against the Ukrainian Opposition. In the words of one of Putin's advisors, President Yanukovych should subjugate the rebellion.

The Yanukovych regime as well as the Russian pro-governmental circles like to play an anti-Semitic card, blaming the right wing of the Opposition in anti-Jewish rhetoric and interpreting the slogan 'Ukraine above all' as a Nazi-like motto. By-and-large it is another propagandist trick on the part of corrupted Ukrainian authorities and the Russian political technologists.

Another anti-Ukrainian concept is a notion of a so-called Russian brotherhood with Ukrainian people. It works in the South-East of Ukraine. While the very notion of the one nation is historically incorrect, the Russians who live in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, still do not regard themselves as Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent. On the contrary, they rather identify themselves with the Russian Federation, often denying the Ukrainian statehood.  One can hardly imagine a person of African or Asian descent living in France, Germany or United States who would not self-identify himself as French, German or American in terms of national affiliation.

In Ukraine, a nation is still to be built. In this regard, an interview with a Jewish girl from EuroMaidan in Kyiv is of utmost significance. Her outlook demonstrates a new vision of Ukrainian nation composed of all ethnic groups living in Ukraine. In perfect Ukrainian language she emphasized, "We stand for the principles, for democracy, for freedom and security and we stand against the corrupt government and police brutality. We do that because we believe in the new and democratic Ukraine."

The time has come for the new Marshall Plan for Ukraine. The EU and US have lived up to the so often declared principles of democracy and freedom. It is not Wellbeing Above All and it is not Ukraine Above All, but it is Freedom and Democracy Above All.

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